Here’s how you can report frustrating pop-ups and deceptive web designs may be illegal

Warning on 'dark patterns' in ads
Warning on 'dark patterns' in ads

HOUSTON – Many of us are exposed to annoying pop-ups that are difficult to close and manipulative consents that try to trick us into paying for things we don’t want to buy. Federal regulators are now looking into these practices called “dark patterns.”

The term refers to web designs that intentionally push people to do things they might not have otherwise chosen to do.

Consumer Reports is asking people to send in examples of dark patterns in hopes of educating others so that people won’t be tricked into these ploys to pay more money or view an ad.

Some examples include a food delivery service that automatically lumps service fees in with your taxes, giving the customer no choice but to pay the extra amount.

Another consumer shared an app consent page that seems to ask for permission to use your data to show you ads you might be interested in, but there is not a “no” option. The only button requires the user to give the app consent.

The Federal Trade Commission has sued companies like ABC Mouse for leading many consumers to be renewed and charged for memberships without their consent. In some instances, dark patterns may violate the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

If you want to report dark patterns by a company to the FTC, you can do that here.


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